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Preview: Capitals at Ducks

Washington aims to protect first place in Eastern Conference without suspended defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

by Dan Arritt / Correspondent

CAPITALS (44-16-7) at DUCKS (35-23-10)



Capitals team scope

Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk will not play after he was suspended for two games by the NHL's Department of Player Safety for charging Los Angeles Kings defenseman Kevin Gravel during a 4-2 loss on Saturday. The Capitals have lost three consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Feb 22-27, 2015 and hold a one-point lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division with 15 games remaining. "Awkward," coach Barry Trotz said after the game. "We haven't done that in a while, so we'll have to fight through it. The only way you do it is together, as a group, and we'll get to find out [Sunday]." The Capitals were called for six minor penalties against the Kings, including three by Shattenkirk, and have allowed four power-play goals in their past two games. "A little adversity here at this time of year is not a bad thing," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "We'll keep pushing. Luckily we don't have to wait long for [Sunday]." Goalie Braden Holtby will start after backup Philipp Grubauer made 18 saves against the Kings. Forward Alex Ovechkin has not scored an even-strength goal in his past 17 games and has one point in his past eight. 


Ducks team scope

Ducks forward Antoine Vermette is expected to play after his 10-game suspension for physical abuse of officials ended Friday. Vermette has 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in 58 games while winning 62.4 percent of his faceoffs, second in the League among those with at least 25. Forward Nick Ritchie, who was on a line with Vermette and Corey Perry during an optional skate Sunday, is also expected to return after missing the past two games with an upper-body injury. Ritchie is tied for fifth on the Ducks with 12 goals and is sixth in the League in hits (209). Anaheim is tied with the Calgary Flames for second place in the Pacific Division and seven points behind the first-place San Jose Sharks.


Capitals projected lineup

Marcus Johansson -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Tom Wilson

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Justin Williams

Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle -- Jakub Vrana

Karl Alzner -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- Nate Schmidt

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Taylor Chorney

Injured: Andre Burakovsky (hand)

Suspended: Kevin Shattenkirk


Ducks projected lineup

Andrew Cogliano -- Ryan Kesler -- Jakob Silfverberg

Patrick Eaves -- Ryan Getzlaf -- Rickard Rakell 

Nick Ritchie -- Antoine Vermette -- Corey Perry

Logan Shaw - Nate Thompson - Chris Wagner

Cam Fowler -- Kevin Bieksa

Hampus Lindholm -- Josh Manson

Sami Vatanen -- Brandon Montour

John Gibson

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer, Jared Boll, Ondrej Kase

Injured: Simon Despres (upper body), Clayton Stoner (lower body)


Status report

Burakovsky skated back in Arlington, Virginia, for nearly an hour with members of the Capitals training and equipment staff, according to He said his hand felt good and hopes to begin practicing when the Capitals return for a two-game homestand beginning Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild.


Who's hot

Oshie has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his past nine games. ... The Capitals have 23 power-play goals in their past 28 games. ... Getzlaf has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in his past 12 games. ... Rakell has seven points (six goals, one assist) in his past seven games. ... Bieksa has three assists in his past four games.

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